Apple disappointed most of the world’s techies Tuesday by failing to produce the much-rumored iPhone 5. Instead, it introduced the iPhone 4S, regarded as a modest improvement over the iPhone 4. The new 4S was so underwhelming that the price of Apple stock dropped after the phone was shown to the media. The masses aren’t likely to wait in line for hours to buy the latest iPhone, but the introduction of the 4S gives a good reason to head to the Apple store regardless.
The reason is that, like clockwork, Apple drops the prices of its older phones whenever it rolls out a new model. When the iPhone 4 was launched earlier this year, for instance, the price for a 3GS dipped to $49. The new 4S will have a starting price of $199, while the previous generation iPhone 4 gets a price drop to $99 (for the 8GB model), and the iPhone 3GS is free (again, for the 8GB model). All of these numbers are initial upfront prices, only available if you sign a standard two-year service contract.
Every time Apple introduces a new gadget, it’s an opportunity for bargain hunters to scoop up the older model at a newly discounted price. In this instance, there’s special reason to give the older iPhones a second look. Normally, Apple’s latest gadget is vastly superior to the current model, making the older incarnation seem weak, uncool, and sometimes pathetically out of date. But since the 4S is universally regarded as only a marginal step up from the iPhone 4, there will probably be plenty of consumers seizing the moment when the 4S becomes available—only they’ll be buying a newly cheaper iPhone 4, or perhaps the iPhone 3GS.
The Los Angeles Times, meanwhile, noted that lost amid all the hullabaloo over the 4S and the absence of an iPhone 5 was the fact that Apple has updated and cut prices for the iPod Touch and Nano. The new Touch is now available in black and white, comes with 16GB of storage, runs iOS5, and costs $199—$30 less than it used to. The 8GB nano, meanwhile, which had usually been selling in the neighborhood of $145, is now listed at $129.